The Word: Climate emergency

The Word: Climate emergency


Oxford Dictionaries has declared ‘climate emergency’ to be the word of 2019 following a hundred fold increase in its usage in the past 12 months. 

The term, which had become 10,700% more common by this September than the previous, is defined by the Dictionary as ‘a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it’.

In the past year Climate Emergencies have been declared by a variety of countries including the United Kingdom, France and Canada as well as hundreds of cities and towns worldwide and the UN Secretary-General has said that climate change is ‘the defining issue of our time’.

Many terms relating to the environment made the shortlist reflecting our increasing preoccupation with the issue including: climate action, climate crisis, climate denial, eco-cide and net-zero. ‘Climate emergency’ made the list as two words because multi-part constructions such as ‘heart attack’ are now recognised by linguists as singular words.

Previous winners of the ward include ‘toxic’ in 2018, ‘youthquake’ in 2017 as well as ‘vape’ and ‘post-truth’.

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